When I went off to attend my memoir workshop for the joy Luck Club in Bridgeport, I had no idea that I would run across a very familiar name that I grew up with while as a child. When I was born, I was handicapped physically and emotionally and cognitively as well. It was in the early 1960's and programs were a dime a dozen. Very few existed and those that did were oases for my parents and myself. When I was born, one of doctors attending to us told my parents, "just stick him in an institution. : I am glad that my parents never followed that doctor's advice.
This little spark that was then needed to be plugged in. What was great was that there was this handicapped man, Henry Viscardi, Jr. who had the foresight and vision to prepare a place where handicapped youngsters and adults could grow and adjust to society at their own pace. It was not a perfect environment as we were to find out. In that, with so many cases of handicaps far worse than mine, I was left out of the loop sometimes and drifted. Staying at the same level after three years in an open classroom setting.
It is not to blame the system since I was only 9 to 12 years old in the open classroom. There must have been a lot of sensory images going on at the time and that can at times be very hard to process and comprehend when there is an assault of them coming at a pre-teen who is just struggling to make sense of a big and scary world.
Yet, a great benefit that The School, as Dr. Viscardi called it was that it provided the novices in life like me and my parents a place to spend one's time in acceptance. IN looking at the world of disability in a new way. In a corporate sense of cooperation.
Looking back now, I see the images in my head of malformations , of worlds turned upside down. Yet, each individual that was part of that scene is becoming whole again. It may take time. These years that I was at the Henry Viscardi School were times when I would learn to form relationships and to emerge during my teenage years in a very different environment of the public school system. A time when my parents and I had to advocate to those in authority that we could make it on our own. And not behind the closed doors of an institution.
My longing now is to go back and give an inspirational talk to the school and let them know that hope does exist. And I am glad that Dr.Viscardi has three children who are helping the youth of the world go further in the bettering of our society!!!!
After I wrote this , I read a verse in John 1:10-12 that summed up how my life went as well. In the very beginning as I mentioned I was not accepted by some. Then as I went through life, I began to be accepted. Those verses state that even though Jesus was integral in the creation of the world, the world did not accept him. And so I was at the School which helped to make me to who I am today. I am recognized as a functioning member of a society, even if on a lower rung than that which some of my peers are on now. But I am okay with that. God must have me there for a reason; just like God placed Jesus in our world the way He did it.
You see, the way I see it, is God's ways are not our ways!!!!! I let Him be the CEO for that very reason!!!!